Even though they live in the capital of couture, most Parisians can’t sew a stitch. Like most countries, France kicked home economics to the curb decades ago. Since hardly any one knows how to shorten a hem, fix a button, or take in a seam, you can find a retoucheur on practically every Parisian corner. But all that is about to change thanks to Sweat Shop, a new creative collective in the residential 10th whose mission is to teach Parisians how to make and customize their own clothes.
Filled with revamped 60s school desks, a large central worktable, vintage sewing patterns, pools of colorful yarn, top-of-the-line Singer sewing machines and an adorable chill-out corner with sweet treats, Sweat Shop is a fun communal space where work equals wardrobe.
“The idea is to encourage people to buy less, make things for themselves and recycle what they already own,” explains fashion designer Sissi Holleis, who came up with the out-of-the-box concept with makeup artist Martena Duss.
Sweat Shop functions like a cyber café; only instead of computers you have sewing machines at your disposal. You can rent a machine by the hour and stop by anytime during the week and work on that little design of yours if you know what you’re doing. Or you can sign-up for one of the five thematic workshops that are available each week, and have one of the experts on hand teach you the ropes.
While I’ve never as much as sewn a hem, I’m already obsessing about the 70s YSL jumpsuit that I’m going to make using one of the vintage Vogue patters available for rent.
What to expect at Sweat Shop:
Atelier Ouvert (2H): From beginners to the highly advanced, anyone is welcome. All you need to do is bring your supplies to fix that winter coat lining, make a dress, or copy a pair of your favorite slacks, and your professor will guide you through your project.
Atelier Enfants (2H): Put that kid to work! This introduction course teaches children how to knit, crochet and sew by hand as well as by machine. Think of how much money and time you’ll save when your little tike knows how to hem his own pants or sew back buttons that have fallen off.
Atelier Tricot (2H): Every Tuesday night Sweat Shop turns into a knitting circle during this two hour all-level class.
Atelier Custom (4H): Ripped jeans, cut-off Ts, studded leather jackets, it all sounds so easy, but think again. Customization is the subtle art of glamorous destruction. So let the Queen of customization, Vava Dudu, guide you through the death and rebirth of your favorite frocks.
Atelier Mlle Kou (7H): Mlle Kou, aka Céline Dupuy, swings by the shop once a week to give this all-day couture workshop which starts with an original pattern, is punctuated with tea and snacks prepared by Bob’s Juice Bar next door and ends with you walking away with a fabulous handmade design.